Psalm 81 is really powerful. In it, God says: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But My people would not heed my voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!” (Ps 81:10-13).
It seems incredible that almighty God would plead with anyone to listen to Him, let alone urge creatures of dust to do so. Yet that is the human ailment: having confidence we know what is best. Perhaps there are few places where this is more clearly exemplified than in Christian leadership. Christian leaders often act as if it is up to them to determine the vision for their organization or their own life. They act as if the success of their organization depends upon their ingenuity and creativity
For my part, I am becoming increasingly convinced that apart from Christ and His leadership in my life, I can do nothing (John 15:5). When I pray I find myself asking God to do less and less and asking Him to explain more and more. I am seeing that God is in control of the world around me and He does have a will He is working to accomplish. My focus needs to be on understanding what is on HIS heart, and what He is doing and then to adjust everything in my life and organization to become involved. It is an exciting way to live and it is an exhilarating way to lead.
I am reading the fascinating story of the great American explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Cark, by Stephen Ambrose entitled: Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. It tells the story of the opening up of the western United States by these two brave explorers and their team. It was an incredible feat and one that produced long lasting results. Interestingly, Meriwether Lewis turned thirty-one in the midst of his odyssey. He reflected in his journal: “I have as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the happiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now sorely feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended” (280). Such a humble statement seems incredible coming from someone engaged at that time in perhaps the greatest journey of discovery in North American history. Sadly, this great explorer would end his life in depression, frustration, and suicide. Meriwether’s life certainly raises the question of how each of us invests our life. We, like him, could bemoan the hours we squandered on fruitless endeavors.
I contrasted Meriwether’s life with a pioneer of a different sort: C.T. Studd. Studd was a famous cricket player in England, waiting for his large inheritance from his father. Christ claimed his life and Studd gave away his enormous fortune and invested the remainder of his life as a missionary to China and then to Africa. He had an enormous impact on his generation which continues to this day. Listen to some of his quotes:
Upon his marriage to Priscilla Stuart, they resolved to give the remainder of his wealth to the Salvation Army and then to leave for China as missionaries. He wrote General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army: “And now we want to enclose a cheque for 1,500 pounds . . . Henceforth our bank is in heaven. You see we are rather afraid—notwithstanding the great earthly safety of Messrs. Coitus and Co. and the Bank of England- we are, I say, rather afraid they may both break on the Judgment day.”
When realizing he did not have a missionary organization supporting him as he sailed for China he proclaimed: “The Committee I work under is a conveniently small committee, a very wealthy Committee, and is always sitting in session – the Committee of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
Other quotes include:
“We will a thousand times sooner die trusting only in our God, than live trusting in man.”
“ . . .don’t come out to be a missionary as an experiment; it is useless and dangerous. Only come if you feel you would rather die than not come. Don’t come if you want to make a great name or want to live long. Come if you feel there is no greater honor, after living for Christ, than to die for Him.”
“Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in hell, when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.”
“Marriage can be a great blessing or a great curse, depending on where you place the cross.”
Some wish to live within the sound,
Of a church or chapel bell.
I want to run a rescue shop,
Within a yard of hell.
“Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands.”
C. T. Studd invested his life in the Kingdom of God and heaven is still feeling the impact.
Please pray for me and my father as we conduct a spiritual leadership conference in San Francisco, Oct 28-29th. Please also pray for the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary as we are currently facing several major financial challenges: We have a tax appeal pending. We must raise several hundred thousand dollars for a sewer line to our property. We are also facing a significant budget shortfall this year that we need to make up by year end. I appreciate your prayers!